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Gill Sotu: American Pirate

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Gillenwater “Gill” Sotu assumed a new role for his country on the eve of the millennium

Portrait of Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Gillenwater "Gill" Sotu


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From KPBS and So Say We All in San Diego, welcome to Incoming, the show that brings you stories from the lives of American veterans told in their own words, directly from their own mouths. I’m Justin Hudnall.

It is nothing but an understatement when I say that Gill Sotu is a big player in the San Diego art scene. He ran one of the most welcoming and successful open mic nights in town for years called Train of Thought, which has since evolved into a radio show on KNSJ and as a podcast and which you should definitely check out. He’s one of the most powerful performance poets and musicians I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but even more than that, he’s a leader. The man always rolls with an entourage of aspiring poets, musicians, and comedians, many for whom he is responsible for giving their first taste of glory on a stage. Even after he made a big proclamation to me that he was going to take some time off to focus on his own career as an artist, he just can’t help being a community leader. He’s compulsively supportive. If all this effusive language on my part makes me sound like I have a bit of a man crush on Gill, well, Guess what. I do. I aspire to be nothing less than the ivory to his ebony. But the reason I’m saying all this is because I believe it’s connected to a much lesser known fact about Gill, which is that he’s a navy vet. So, here on episode 3 of Incoming, we asked Mr. Gill Sotu to perform a piece for us that speaks to his experience in the service. And so without further adieu, I’ll just let Gill tell you the rest.

Gill: American Pirate

December 31st 1999,

For 17 years Prince warned that this was going to happen

The party has begun and I not only missed the boat

I got on the wrong one

No flights of fancy, no fanfare, no fun

No sexy women wishing to dance and drink away their daddy issues

Just sailors

Just us sailors

Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses

Your criminals, your high school underachievers,

Your, I’ll do anything to get out of this town...

…and we will build you the best Navy this nation can band-aid together.

Dress pirates to look like gentlemen

Tell us this is for God and country

No need to trick us capt’n,

we’re American Pirates we are

We’ll do it for women and money

December 31st 1999

In the middle of nowhere doing nothing

but keeping my tray from sliding off the table

The black ocean ebbs and flows rhythmically

Trying to start the party

Keeps things rockin

But lacks any real direction

You know how dem black oceans do

I’m trying to keep my chicken fried steak in my stomach

Three years as a sailor and I still keep a plastic bag in my back pocket

in case of sickness

I’m an accident waiting to happen,

Like Y2K

Someone reset the clock so the planes don’t fall out of the sky

Someone turn the back time so I don’t get on this boat

I’m supposed to be with Prince, Apollonia, Vanity, and Sheila E

And the rest of the Revolution

It was the apocalypse we’ve all been waiting for

Instead Clemmons gets caught beating off in his space off the aft deck

They playing spades in the berthing and taking no prisoners

Clark got the Madden going on the PlayStation in the laundry room

Usually I’d be engaged in one,

maybe all three of them activities at the same time

But it’s December 31st, 1999

And there will never be another one

No land to be seen

No kiss to be stolen

Military service is a marriage

She always comes first

And can care less if you reach your climax

Your goals, your dreams

Just do what she says

And you might make it out weak but alive

And if you’re lucky

With a few good stories



That was Mr. Gill Sotu and that is our show. Incoming is produced by myself, Justin Hudnall. Original music by Chris Warren, Ariana Warren and Kristopher Apple. In the studio, Kurt Kohnen provides technical assistance, Leah Singer is our Web Editor, Jim Tinsky does Web Development and John Decker is Grand Poobah Program Director. If you have a story or you know someone who does, go to Thanks so much for listening. We’ll talk again soon.


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